Scotland’s ferry fiasco has been dubbed the most wasteful public spending project in the history of devolution but, in the SNP’s defence, at least the CalMac staff will be kitted out with a gym. 

The deck plans for the new CalMac ferry, the MV Glen Sannox – one of the vessels at the centre of the ferry scandal – has been posted online in full by Ferguson Marine.

As George Allison points out, for a liner designed to do just one hour trips from Ardrossan to Brodick, the architects have reserved a bizarre amount of space for the crew. The much-delayed vessel has almost two decks of crew cabins and facilities – including a gym, a mess deck and a crew recreation room – which cover a similar surface area to the entire passenger space. 

These extra crew facilities are unusual for a ferry on the kind of route – and their inclusion inevitably means less internal seating for passengers. 

Could these elaborate features have anything to do with why the building of these two controversial vessels has been such a lengthy and expensive process? 

The cost to the taxpayer of delivering Scotland’s long-delayed lifeline ferries has soared to almost half a billion pounds, according to recent analysis of the money trail based on the Scottish Government’s own accounting and audits. This is despite the project originally being a £97 million ‘fixed price contract’ sum. Earlier this month, the Herald revealed that ministers have now overspent against the budget of Ferguson Marine to the tune of over £120m over the last three years alone. 

To make matters worse, the project is at least five years behind schedule. Hebridean islanders rely significantly on ferries to operate day-to-day. Yet, since the SNP came to power in 2007, the average age of Scotland’s lifeline vessels has soared from 17 years to nearly 26 years. Some 18 of of CalMac’s 35 working ferries currently deployed across Scotland are over 25 years old. Unsurprisingly, this rusting fleet is failing. Islanders are experiencing repeated delays, cancellations and break-downs of vessels, which cuts them off from the mainland. 

Graham Simpson MSP, the Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister says Scotland’s island communities have been “betrayed by an SNP Government that’s been unable to provide a reliable ferry fleet on which livelihoods depend.”

The amount of money pumped into the nationalised ferry delivery firm has already been coined a national scandal and a stain on Sturgeon’s party. But now it seems that islanders are being left in limbo – and taxpayers’ money squandered on an industrial scale – all to deck these ferries out with superfluous features, and to give staff enough room to lounge around. 

These newly revealed deck plans may well intensify calls for an independent public inquiry into the ferry fiasco.

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